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HECFI stickhandles around lease talks

By Kevin Werner
METROLAND WEST MEDIA GROUP

The Hamilton Bulldogs will have to wait a few more weeks before the Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc.’s board of directors decides if it wants to renew the lease of the hockey club for Copps Coliseum.

HECFI board members remained tight-lipped about the issue after holding an hour-and-an-half in-camera meeting Nov. 15. Board vice-chair Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr said the board members discussed the issue with Global Spectrum’s chief operating officer John Page and chief executive officer Frank Russo during the meeting.

The next HECFI board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 23.

Farr refused further comment on the issue.

In a letter to the city dated Oct. 26, Page indicated that another hockey organization had approached Global Spectrum about a lease arrangement at Copps Coliseum.

“We respectfully request Global Spectrum be given additional time to evaluate both scenarios so that we can present the best possible business model to the city for approval,” stated Page.

Michael Andlauer, owner of the Bulldogs, said during a recent HECFI board meeting he wasn’t happy about waiting around to discuss the lease arrangements.

There have been rumours circulating that Andlauer was looking to locate his team to Laval, Quebec, the latest occurring in January, 2012. But Andlauer quickly quashed any speculation he was looking to move.

During his tenure at Copps, Andlauer spent $300,000 to upgrade Copps’s score clock, and he waved the annual subsidy from the city of $230,000. He also saved the city and HECFI about $1.6 million when the club opted out of its agreement with HECFI for promoting the Bulldogs.

Global Spectrum was awarded the contract to oversee HECFI earlier this year, after the city issued a request for proposals. Russo said in an interview his top priority was to sign the Bulldogs and make them Copps’s anchor tenant.

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